Wednesday, October 02, 2013

Nude Hippo: The True Chicago Story

Years ago, I said that the first line in my obituary would include the words; NUDE HIPPO.  That was the name of the show that I created, produced and even hosted for a short time.  (Many people often mistakenly called the it NAKED RHINO)  I started the program while in my twenties and now that I am in my forties, it is finally over.  So allow me, to take this time to look back, one more time.

NUDE HIPPO was a local production that began covering Chicago in 1997.  The series ran on Chicago cable television for exactly a decade (5/3/1997-5/3/2007) as a weekly program covering, what it called, "Simply Chicago's Best".  NUDE HIPPO continued after the cable run with field reports as an online program through a partnership with NBC Chicago and later it returned to television on the digital broadcast channel, WMAQ-DT2 5.2.


NUDE HIPPO premiered on Chicago cable TV on May 3, 1997 as The Big Fat NUDE HIPPO Show.  From May of 1997 to January of 1998 the show was taped in front of a live audience in the basement of a Chicago Park District building. The format was originally a variety show featuring comedy sketches, musical performances, cooking segments.

In January of 1998 NUDE HIPPO moved to the Chicago Access Network studios and began live broadcasts in front of a studio audience, with me and the other four producers (Julie Esterline, Nick Rosario, Michelle Wenglarz & Ramona Roberts) doubling as the host team.  The format evolved towards a talk/variety show, featuring interviews with local celebrities, wacky bits, fake news reports and taped pieces from around Chicago.

In June of 1998 NUDE HIPPO began cycling episodes to suburban cable outlets.  For six months, Evanston's ECMC-TV was the first to run encore episodes of the Chicago version of NUDE HIPPO.  Later that year a deal was made to include Naperville's NCTV, the second largest cable outlet in Illinois, until a commercial deal was made in Chicago, forcing the end of any suburban expansion.

In January of 1999, NUDE HIPPO moved from the local cable access channel to the new commercial cable 25 in Chicago (Chicago Loop/The Pulse of Chicago). This move allowed them to charge for advertising and increase their production quality.

This also marked the move to their new home, The Museum of Broadcast Communications TV Center.  The producers began formatting the show in a more traditional manner, with a single host seated behind a desk and guests seated to their side.  Each live episode broadcast was still produced in front of a studio audience.  The show continued presenting its core themes despite the changes.

Also in January of 1999, was launched.  The website included photos, recipes, comedy bits and extensive information on each guest of the show.

By 2000, NUDE HIPPO began streaming live on the internet and archiving each week's episode.  This venture lasted until mid-2001.


In September of 2002, NUDE HIPPO switched to a magazine format which featured a mix of talk show elements and featured pre-produced segments on various Chicago activities. Now with a new name, NUDE HIPPO: YOUR CHICAGO SHOW, viewers were asked to participate by submitting suggestions regarding which topics they wanted the show to cover.  To define its format, a marketing campaign began touting the new format as "an offbeat magazine-style talk show".

Both the live broadcast and studio audience were dropped in this new version of NUDE HIPPO.  The show was taped the week of the broadcasts to keep them current.

In April of 2006, NUDE HIPPO began streaming video segments online at  NUDE HIPPO also began to post episodes and segments on a new website called YouTube.

In June of 2006, the show partnered up with both NBC Chicago's and University of Illinois at Chicago’s Campus Housing Television's HTV (Housing Television)


In February of 2007, it was announced on air that the show was going to record shows from Walt Disney World in Orlando, Florida. This was a partnership with The Walt Disney Company.  Three shows were taped, featuring all four parks and resorts in Orlando, Florida.


In 2007, NUDE HIPPO's final broadcast was shown exactly a decade after its first episode.  This episode was taped in front of a live audience at the Apollo Theatre in Chicago.  The show featured over a dozen performances and was designed to be a tribute to Chicago talent.

The NUDE HIPPO 10th Anniversary Special was nominated for a local Emmy for Outstanding Achievement for Entertainment Programs.  It lost.

By the end of the series run, NUDE HIPPO was owned and produced by Lossano/Perin, Ltd. (2007-2009)

NUDE HIPPO continued online with new segments.  Gone was the studio and all of its segments, along with the format of a 30 minute episode.  The field pieces with the reporters, were the only portion that remained from the series.

Most of the talent from the series was joined with the NBC Street Team to continue coverage online, under the name NUDE HIPPO Dot Tee-Vee.  This ran for another year and a half.

Marcus Riley, Chris Haskell and a young Barack Obama
They won in two Emmy categories for their coverage.

(Newer-er) NUDE HIPPO (2009-2011)

In June of 2009, NUDE HIPPO was re-organized to a new format.   The talent would no longer be called reporters as they would be "living" the stories, giving the segments a more interactive feeling.

By 2010, new segments were being shot and posted at  An agreement was made with NBC Chicago to continue providing web content, based on the original 2006 deal.

In October of 2010, a drastic new logo help launch The Newer-er NUDE HIPPO website.   Just months shy of a decade; NUDE HIPPO retired the cartoon hippo logo for a sleek new logo with the hippo head replacing the "o" in the word Hippo.

The website featured blogs from on air talent, with features including videos and photos from each segment.  The website included the return of the WORLD NEWS CENTER.   This version was geared towards nontraditional news stories with a commentary included.

In November of 2010, the show became part of the NBC family of local television shows, on NBC Chicago’s NBC 5.2 channel (Comcast 341, RCN 50, WOW! 130 and DTV 5.2)

At the time, I told Robert Feder, Chicago media columnist:
"My lifelong dream of producing a show on NBC has finally come true -- however, I don't think that I was clear enough, as we are only on the sister digital 5.2 channel. We have big shoes to fill as we will be replacing the non-stop weather animation with our non-stop nonsense.  We don't have a timeslot . . . we'll be on everyday with new segments, thrown in randomly with other NBC programming and whatever else they can find lying around.‚  I expect we'll be shown in-between LeeAnn Trotter at some red carpet event and an old video of Jim Ruddle's commentaries."

NUDE_HIPPO@15 (2012)

On May 5th, 2012 @ 9 PM, NUDE HIPPO produced a 50 minute special marking the 15th anniversary, titled NUDE_HIPPO@15.  Amy Zanglin hosted this compilation of moments from the entire 15 year run.

This featured many highlights that have been sitting in storage since its original broadcast.  Several clips were also put online as extended footage, including a clip of the very first few minutes of the premiere broadcast, hosted by Jody Blumling. (2012-2013)
For a final and a very short-run, NUDE HIPPO returned.

Similar to the previous NUDE HIPPO Dot Tee-Vee format, but now reported with the duel team of Ashley Lobo & Luv Cheez (Midge Ripoli).

A "backdoor spin-off" spotlighting Dick Biondi, was produced and aired as the final segment.  Scott Miller was tapped to host a potential new series, where he would take celebrities out to different locations and talk about their career, have some fun and highlight the spot that they were checking out.  This concept would not use the NUDE HIPPO name, but the focus on fun personalities and compelling content would carry on.  This concept is still under development.

This blog is to document all that is NUDE HIPPO.  I would like to thank everyone who were instrumental with helping to make NUDE HIPPO a success.

It was fun!

Bill McCormick successfully spun-off WORLD NEWS CENTER with online reports and a weekly radio segment.

Many members of NUDE HIPPO, lead by Catie Keogh, at the end of the series, started another NBC weekly series, 24/7 Chicago!  

This page is now the new homepage for  

Tony Lossano, Broadcast Producer (TV & Radio, Chicago), amateur bicyclist, a fantastic dog walker, and has never been married to Alyssa Milano.

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